Week 4 SEC picks, games, odds: Georgia hopes for a statement, Auburn-Texas A&M square off in SEC opener
Week 4 brings huge nonconference and SEC battles
This is what fans of SEC schools have been waiting for. Week 4 of the college football season will deliver a massive doubleheader on the SEC on CBS featuring a key SEC West battle between two contenders (Auburn and Texas A&M) and the top nonconference matchup of the season (Notre Dame and Georgia).
What will go down on Saturday in the biggest weekend of the young season? Let's break down the key games, and make some picks straight up and against the spread.
2019 record straight up: 28-8 (77.8%)
2019 record against the spread: 20-15-1 (56.9%)
No. 7 Notre Dame at No. 3 Georgia (-14.5): The biggest game of the college football weekend, and perhaps the biggest nonconference game to be played at Sanford Stadium in a generation, will take place Saturday night on the SEC on CBS. The Georgia defense has notched 12 sacks this season -- halfway to their entire season total in 14 games in 2018. That's the driving factor for a unit that is only one of two in the entire nation yet to allow a red zone touchdown this season.
The Bulldogs will shut down a Fighting Irish rushing attack that really only features quarterback Ian Book and running back Tony Jones, and force Book to win through the air. He won't be able to do that with the limited possessions he will have thanks to a punishing Georgia offense that will grind the Irish down and drain the clock. This one will get sideways late. Pick: Georgia (-14.5)
No. 8 Auburn at No. 17 Texas A&M (-3.5): If you want defense, this game is for you. Auburn's front seven is one of the best in the game, and while Texas A&M's isn't as stout, Auburn's offense has been unable to find consistency in the passing game under true freshman signal-caller Bo Nix. The Aggies front seven will take advantage of a susceptible Tigers offensive line, make it difficult for JaTarvious Whitlow to get going on the ground and force Nix to win with his arm. That won't happen due in large part to the predictability of the Tigers passing attack. The short passing game over the middle has been virtually nonexistent this year, which has to change for them to be true contenders. It won't happen this week. Texas A&M wins and covers in a slugfest. Pick: Texas A&M (-3.5)
Tennessee at No. 9 Florida (-14): The once-fierce rivalry has taken a backseat thanks to Tennessee's struggles and Florida's rebuilding effort under second-year coach Dan Mullen. It'll still be fun to watch this weekend, though. Florida's ceiling with quarterback Kyle Trask isn't as high as it was with injured-star Feleipe Franks, but the floor is much higher. That's what makes this game so interesting. Florida won't be able to blow teams out with Trask, but he also won't make game-changing mistakes. Because of that, expect this one to be close with Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano building off of his three-touchdown performance from a week ago. The Vols will have the ball late with a chance to win, but the vaunted Gators defense will make enough plays to eek out a close win in the Swamp. Pick: Tennessee (+14)
No. 4 LSU at Vanderbilt (-24): Let's get this out of the way first -- the Tigers defense won't let the Commodores into the end zone. Now that it's out of the way, the question then becomes how long the Tigers will keep their foot on the gas offensively. The passing game under quarterback Joe Burrow has been one of the top stories in the entire sport, but the running game hasn't been able to get going. Expect Burrow to set the tone, and then hand the ball to the talented yet under-utilized group of running backs to take it from there, pull away in the second half and notch their first SEC win of the season. Pick: LSU (-24)
South Carolina at Missouri (-9.5): This will be a key SEC East battle between teams that have had disappointing starts to the season, but can get on the right track with a win on Saturday. Gamecocks true freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski was solid against the tough Alabama defense and will have to repeat the feat against a Tigers. That won't happen. The Tigers defense has given up just 2.15 yards per play over the last two games and will have similar success this weekend now that there's tape on Hilinski. Kelly Bryant will have a big game through the air, and the Tigers will pull away late. Pick: Missouri (-9.5)
Kentucky at Mississippi State (-6): The Bulldogs don't have a quarterback who can consistently move the football, plain and simple. Meanwhile, Kentucky proved last week that Sawyer Smith is a pretty solid replacement for Terry Wilson against a very good Florida defense. Smith will light up the Bulldogs defense, spread the ball around to his talented group of receivers and put smiles on the faces of Wildcat fans who need hugs after losing the heartbreaker last week. Pick: Kentucky (+6)
Southern Miss at No. 2 Alabama (-39): The Crimson Tide have struggled on the ground and haven't been able to stretch the field deep this year. Those two aspects of the offense will be the reason that coach Nick Saban keeps his foot on the gas late in this one and allows for an easy cover. Pick: Alabama (-39)
No. 23 Cal at Ole Miss (-2.5): The Bears defense is legitimately good, which seems crazy to say about a Pac-12 defense. But that's where they are thanks to the job coach Justin Wilcox has done since taking the job prior to the 2017 season. They've given up just 3.63 yards per rushing attempt and force Rebels quarterback Matt Corral to take too many chances through the air. Pick: Cal (+2.5)
San Jose State at Arkansas (-21): It's hard for me to trust a Razorbacks defense that has given up 6.14 yards per play against FBS teams, including 5.99 to a mediocre Colorado State team last week. Nick Starkel is the right man at quarterback and he proved it last week with 305 yards and three touchdowns, but his defense will let him down a bit and allow the Spartans to cover. Pick: San Jose State (+21)
So what picks can you make with confidence in Week 4? And which national title contender goes down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from a proven computer model that has returned over $4,500 in profit over the past four seasons.
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